A Travellerspoint blog

November 2019

Useful info on climate change

Here are some useful links on climate change. If you have others please do add them in the comments section
Thank you

10 steps you can take: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181102-what-can-i-do-about-climate-change
Mike Berners Lee Book https://theresnoplanetb.net/..
Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint?https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46459714

Posted by Valfowles 07:29 Comments (0)

Rubbish!

Thoughts on the so called cleanliness of the West

On our travels we are often disappointed and a little shocked to see garbage cluttering roadsides, plastic waste littering tropical beaches, river beds full of rubbish.
Indonesia, Peru, Palestine, Halong Bay all come to mind as I write this and I am sure that others echo this in their travel memories. On this trip someone commented to me how the Palestinian territories were dirty in comparison to the State of Israel, so I thought I would address this issue:

1. Everything I throw away has to go somewhere; just because that is not on my doorstep does not make me any less of a polluter than someone who throws away their rubbish at the boundary of their village because they live in a country where there is no proper refuse collection. I must consider what is happening to the items and packaging I throw away, many of these end up in someone else's environment, making me more of a polluter. So, no clear conscience for me just because I put it in the bin! In fact, do I need something new in the first place? If so, have I considered the environmental impact of its purchase?

2. Palestine and refuse collection ( my understanding):
The State of Israel collects the majority of the taxes on behalf of the Palestinian authority and then pays this to the PA in order for them to provide local services such as schools and refuse collection. The State of Israel regularly withholds this payment to the Palestinian territories thus making it almost impossible for them to deliver the services. We are talking large amounts of money. For more detail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_State_of_Palestine
Whilst on a walking tour in Bethlehem we saw plenty of waste dumped from the watch towers on the Separation wall. Some of the packaging of food waste had the IDF ( Israeli army) logo printed on it so unlikely to be Palestinian waste. Bottles of urine etc. All thrown into a Palestinian graveyard, so sad.
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Once you start researching this subject you begin to realise that the situation is even worse, with the dumping of hazardous waste from the State of Israel on Palestinian land. Pollution on a huge scale, I recommend reading this report
https://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201712_made_in_israel

When freedom of movement is so restricted it is difficult to arrange for waste transfer and rubbish collection. The residents of the Aida refugee camp have therefore been trying to organise their own system. in the first photo is a picture of the waste skips that I took in 2014, the second is in the same place from 2019. The residents have started to build a sorting system for the waste but they have been told by the State of Israel that they may not do so and work has stopped, leaving the residents with few options regarding their refuse disposal

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In Gaza the situation is even worse, compounded by fuel poverty and further restrictions on movement.
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So before we judge, lets take a look at our own approach to refuse, (mine certainly has an element of out of sight out of mind)., and also begin to understand the far reaching and often ignored effects of the illegal occupation.

Posted by Valfowles 12:20 Comments (0)

Bulgaria, Romania and Prague and home!

semi-overcast 23 °C

Quite a rushed journey home as we were due in Scotland on grandparent duty for the arrival of 7th grandchild! We made it on time and little Frida May Leslie-Melville has arrived safely! We are now back in our house and time to complete this blog and put to print some of the experiences and learning we have gained from this trip.
Sofia was a delight, I didn't have huge expectations but, from the moment that we found an honest taxi driver at the airport and booked into a clean and cheap hotel that was a few minutes walk from the station, we soon realised that this was a city to which me might return. We spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon and evening strolling the boulevards, parks and cathedrals, everywhere was scrupulously clean. We ate a lovely meal at the Art Club museum restaurant. Vey cheap in comparison with all the other places we have been eating, a third of price of Italy and Israel.
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The next morning we boarded the train for Videle, Romania. Traditional compartments with a long side corridor connecting, mainly young western travellers. We shared with a chatted to a French woman running an NGO in Albania, a Greek engineering student and a Swedish man who has spent his summer Uni vacation travelling the European rail network. Our journey was about 10 hours. Stunning mountain scenery as we left Sofia and then later in the day, rural landscapes with traditional donkey carts and small tractors working in quite large fields.
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As we entered Romania the border police boarded the train and whisked away our passports. We used to find this quite alarming but have become quite blasé and just continued to read and chat.
We arrived at Videle just as the sun was setting. We had not really done our research and so to us this seemed a sleepy little town, there was certainly very little close to the station. We started to walk towards the town centre but after about 10 mins found ourselves in an unlit park in an unknown area looking very like lost foreigners! Caution prevailed and we made our way back to the station and the small grocery shop, we were able to use our Bulgarian money and bought some bread and cheese and settled in the station waiting room, for a good few hours, to await the night train.
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It arrived and we were delighted by our classic ( old!) wooden sleeping compartment.
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The conductor told us that the train would be arriving 2 hours late so we didn't need to wake up so early! It was actually 4 hours late which gave us a challenge for the next day but at that moment we were both glad for a toilet and a comfortable bed!
The first day in October saw us reunited with Marius and his family, we had become friends with Marius back in the 90's when we were involved with supporting Romanian street children and those who had been abandoned in orphanages during the Ceaușescu regime. I am going to write a separate page about Marius, the Debora House and his ongoing work with vulnerable children.
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The train delay in the morning meant we missed our connection to Arad, but hey Romania has Uber! So we eventually arrived. The 2 hour delay in the afternoon caused even more problems ( it wasn't helped by the information people telling us we should never book that particular train, 15:30 Arad Budapest, as it is always late!). We missed our connection and night train to Prague,, but eventually found the international office at Budapest Kaleti station: it is off platform 6 and down a corridor. Here we were able to book a new train for the following morning from Budapest Nyugati. We found an excellent and quite cheap hotel (T62 Hotel) near that station, in the morning the walk along the platform to our carriage was longer than the walk from the hotel to the station! We are now hoping that Inter rail will pay the compensation due for missed connection and refund our tickets.

The train journey to Prague in the daylight almost made up for our delay. We would have missed all the scenery had we been sleeping!
Prague is beautiful another city to which we would return.
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We mastered the metro and the trams and took in the tourist sights and the jazz clubs!

Our return journey home was quite ambitious depending on seamless connections and we did it!
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Including an short old age jog from the coach stop to the train in Nurenburg

24 hours at home and on our way north ready for the arrival of this little one!
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Posted by Valfowles 10:19 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

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